According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of October 2022, women make up roughly half the American workforce but they represent only about 4% of skilled trades professionals.
At the shipyard, 19% of the workforce is women. While the trades have historically been a male-dominated field, more and more women are starting to find meaningful, lucrative work as skilled trade professionals. Access to family-sustaining, blue-collar careers is critical for women’s economic security.
For the last 42 years, the Washington Women in Trades Fair has created a place where hundreds of individuals gather to teach, learn, recruit and apply for jobs within the trades. The fair offers attendees a unique opportunity to learn about careers such as carpentry, welding, ironworking, machining, parks management and electrical line work.
A dedicated, passionate group of professionals from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility attended the fair May 5, 2023, at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion to present attendees with career opportunities and interactive displays.
“PSNS & IMF has been participating in this fair for more than 30 years,” said Jennifer Farley, chair of the shipyard’s Puget Women’s Employee Networking Group and coordinator of PSNS & IMF’s exhibitor displays. “There are so many opportunities for women within the shipyard. The sky is really the limit because the command offers resources like the apprentice program, tuition assistance, PWENG, mentorship and other benefits.”
Farley was among more than 20 shipyard employees who were onsite to interact with attendees.
“For me it’s also fun to think about having gone to my first Women in Trades Fair when I was about eight years old with my mom." said Farley. "She worked at PSNS & IMF as well and she took me with her. I remember working the PSNS booth with her and getting excited as she helped me use the tools in their displays while I interacted with people.”
Participating shops included: Shop 06, Tool Mechanics; Shop 26, Welders; Shop 71, Painters and Tilesetters; Shop 99, Temporary Service Mechanics; Shop 11/17, Shipfitters and Sheet Metal Mechanics; Shop 64, Sail Loft; Code 105, Radiation Control; Shop 51, Electricians; Code 730, Crane Maintenance Mechanics; Code 740, Riggers and Crane Operators; Shop 31, Inside Machinists; and Shop 38, Marine Machinists.
“At around 17 years old, I participated in a work-study program at the shipyard and that was my first real exposure to the trades,” said Ella Walker, component repair technician with Shop 31. “I always enjoyed building and learning new things and the shipyard is filled with learning opportunities. A draw for me was the prospect of having a long-term career with good pay, benefits and a retirement program. My trade offers me both job security and career growth.”
Women comprise approximately 19% of the workforce at PSNS & IMF and recruiting efforts continue within Kitsap, Mason, Pierce and King counties. The shipyard provides both entry-level opportunities and jobs for advanced journey-level mechanics. For individuals with no prior experience, the shipyard has a comprehensive training program that guides new employees toward proficiency in their respective trades.
If you or someone you know is interested in a great career with PSNS & IMF, email a resume to DHAproductionjob.firstname.lastname@example.org or check USAJobs.gov (search PSNS).